For years now, I’ve been visiting a few different East Hampton groceries, and each time I go, I always end up a cart full of vegetables. Although they do a great job of offering a wide variety of produce, I find that it doesn’t last very long, and I miss my window of opportunity for fresh eats.
The amazing taste and incredible variety of organic and locally grown produce has inspired a trend toward modern home agriculture, at least in my eyes. And I urge homeowners to dig (pun intended) into home gardening and discover the many benefits of growing vegetables at home.
Get More for Less
Sadly, processed ready-to-eat foods or restaurant dollar menus are often less expensive than healthy eating. Especially if you prefer organic produce, healthful eating can put a dent in your food budget. Seed packets are inexpensive and rainwater and sunlight are free. Since you’ll exercise complete control over what pesticides and fertilizers you choose, your home harvest will meet the quality standards you expect. Throw in volunteer labor by yourself and the kids and even a simple vegetable garden can pay for itself many times over.
Invest in Good Health
Vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. Studies suggest that for optimum health you should fill fully one-half of your dinner plate with plant-based foods. Obesity rates are skyrocketing, especially among children and adolescents. There has never been a better time to invest in healthy eating. Vegetables are naturally low in calories and pack a powerful nutritional punch of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. As an added bonus, gardening is good exercise. Shoveling, raking and weeding can help you meet your daily fitness goals.
Indulge in Good Taste
The mealy orange balls that pass for tomatoes at the grocery store have nothing on a fresh, bright red fruit plucked straight from the vine, sweet smelling and still warm from the sun. Say goodbye to rubbery carrots, brownish broccoli and limp lettuce. Imagine gathering greens for a salad only moments before the meal is served. The produce sold in stores often spends days or even weeks in transit before it arrives in the bins. Growing vegetables at home guarantees that you’ll eat food picked at the peak of freshness and flavor.
Do it for the Kids
Children delight in watching things grow. Parents have always struggled with finicky eaters, trying in vain to convince kids to eat their vegetables. Turn the tables and let your picky eater pick his or her veggies. Make the vegetable garden a family project and watch your child’s excitement as he or she pulls carrots, plucks silky ears of corn and checks daily when the first small pumpkin begins to swell on the vine. Nothing can compare to the sight of a child who hates vegetables popping new pea pods to eat the sweet morsels inside.
In the busy modern world, it’s easy to lose sight of the cycle of growth and gathering. Tilling the earth, planting seeds, tending plants and reaping the harvest reward the gardener with the simple satisfaction of a job well done.